India’s No.1 star paddler Sharath Kamal is staying motivated and eager to perform his best in the Tokyo Olympics beginning July 23 despite the pandemic wreaking havoc.
The 38-year-old, playing in his fourth Olympics, said the squad is not underprepared despite the pandemic. “I don’t think we are underprepared. As far as training and travel are concerned, it has not been ideal. But I feel I am in a much better situation than last year. In fact, I played well in the World Table Tennis Star Contender series last month in Doha, beating World No.16 Patrick Franziska of Germany. Manika [Batra] and Sathiyan too played quite well in Doha. I thought my level did not dip in the last one year,” he said in a virtual press meet facilitated by SAI (Sports Authority of India)-TOPS (Target Olympic Podium Scheme) on Wednesday. “This could be my best Olympics due to my understanding of mind, body and the experiences that I’ve had over the years.”
Praising TOPS for funding his training, travelling and other expenses, Sharath said “things became a lot better once TOPS came into the fold. They have been very forthcoming and open to suggestions. We are able to concentrate on our training. The system has become more professional,” he said.
The last couple of years, according to Sharath, have been very consistent. “I have been ranked around 40 in the world in the last two years. More than anything, my ranking has done the talking. The 2018 Commonwealth and the Asian Games medals have done us a world of good. The 2018 Asian Games bronze medals in men’s team and mixed doubles (with Manika Batra) gave us the confidence that we can do well in the Olympics,” said the nine-time National champion, ranked 32 in the world.
Acknowledging that this would not be the best of Olympics, Sharath said: “In a social way, it is not going to be the best of Olympics. There will not be much festivities and celebration. We’ll have to adapt as we don’t have many options,” he said.